Lubavitcher Hasidim (Habad, Chabad)

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Important Hasidic movement, founded in Belorussia by Shneur Zalman, at the end of the eighteenth century. At first called Chabad (acronym of "hokhma, binah, da'at": wisdom, reason, knowledge), it developed in the vicinity of the city of Lubavitch, the name of which it adopted. Following the First World War, its epicenter moved to Warsaw, then, after the Second World War, to the United States, specifically to Brooklyn. In 1950, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn took over the leadership of the movement, attempting to maintain its anti-Zionist perspective. At the same time, Israel was becoming the world center of Torah study, and the Lubavitch leader induced some of his faithful to settle there. The movement, which was very quiet for many years, became much more prominent in the middle of the 1980s, when it benefited from the financial support of the Australian millionaire rabbi Joseph Gutnik. Centered around its chief rabbi in Brooklyn, its activity expanded, having vast resources at its disposal, in particular the largest Jewish publishing house in the world, Kehot. Followers of a very strict regimen, the Lubavitch preach the observance of the 613 Torah commandments, and oppose assimilation. After the death, in June, 1992, of Menachem Schneersohn, considered by some as the Messiah ("Moshiach"), two currents surfaced in the movement: the first uniting the messianics, the second uniting the pragmatics. Since then, Rabbi Gutnik has been the political and secular leader of the Lubavitch, while Rabbi Krinsky has been in charge of its overall functions. The Lubavitch movement has opposed any peace accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

SEE ALSO Messiah;Torah.